Interview with Lorraine Wilson, rail travel author

13 September 2021

Lorraine Wilson joins us for the latest Rail Chatter and we're delighted to introduce a female rail travel fan into the mix.

Author of Facing Forwards, an account of travelling solo by rail through Europe she describes as a 'life-changing odyssey'. Such is the power of travelling by train!

Based in Scotland, Lorraine has some of the world's most incredible scenery right on her doorstep. Lorraine has is also an independent civil celebrant and her ambition is to conduct a wedding ceremony or vow renewal on a train!

Interview by Emily Roberts

Facing Forwards, great title for a book about rail travel Lorraine and I presume it is your preferred seating option?

Definitely facing forwards and window too. I don't really care whether it's airline or table seats. My real preference is a single seat if available - that normally only comes in First Class of course, but I have had a couple of single seat journeys with LNER in Standard. Perfect.

So the book was about your rail adventures across Europe, which has been mostly off limits over the past 12 months or so, but have you managed to get out and about by train in Britain in that time?

My last trip was only a few weeks ago actually. I travelled from Dundee to Settle in North Yorkshire, where I was training to become an independent civil celebrant. I connected in Leeds, but unfortunately, I didn't have the chance to take the Settle to Carlisle line.

Settle Station

The Settle to Carlisle line is definitely the top of the bucket list with many. You won't be disappointed. I've been on board recently and if you have the weather on your side too, the views are tremendous. Any other journeys planned for you soon?

I'll be travelling to Inverness in a few weeks' time and will connect through Perth. That's one of the most underrated journeys in the country. The drama of the Cairngorms and the bleakness of Highland moors. I'd recommend that journey!

I haven't done the full journey from Dundee to Penzance yet and that is one I really want to travel on. The thought of stepping on a train in my home city and stepping off in Cornwall is wonderful. I would need to do that alone. No distractions! Also, the Snowdonia line. I haven't spent nearly enough time in Wales, so that would be the perfect excuse.

Leaving Dundee

I take it as a Scot, your favourite rail journeys in Britain would have to be the Scottish railway lines?

Aye, for me it's anywhere along Scotland's East Coast. If I'm travelling to Aberdeen, the Angus coastline is spectacular. Heading south and travelling to London, the stretch of coastline after Edinburgh which takes in the East Lothian beaches is absolutely gorgeous. Further south, I always want to jump off at Berwick upon Tweed, Morpeth, Alnwick and Durham to spend some time there.

Did you used to travel a lot by train as a kid?

We would go on family holidays to Blackpool every year. That meant changing in Edinburgh and Preston. I always loved the changes! The first time I would have been 18 months, but I do remember the old carriages with sliding doors and facing seats. Also looking out the window and seeing fields full of sheep. Great for a city girl!

What a memory! Finally, have you any tips for people want to explore more of Britain by train?

The rail network connects us so well that we can explore villages, towns and cities of all sizes. In Scotland, it's easy to get to some of our most remote destinations. The line from Glasgow to Oban is spectacular, as is the Highland destination. Explore the beautiful town of Oban and then head over to Mull on the Craignure ferry. Open a map to find how to connect the different railway lines to explore from north to south, east to west.

Well on that dreamy note Lorraine, I'm off to plan a trip around Scotland by train! Thanks for sharing with us.

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